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    The Mysterious Peaks of Baranthar $3.57
    Average Rating:5.0 / 5
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    The Mysterious Peaks of Baranthar
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    The Mysterious Peaks of Baranthar
    Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 01/03/2014 02:51:33

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This module is 28 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1/2 a page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 23 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

    This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

    Still here? All right! In the "Clockwork Wonders of Brandlehill", the PCs found a corpse of a half-orc ranger and his journal detailing an uncompleted quest dealing with the demonic entity Grualroth and finally putting an end to its vile ruminations. The trail of the compiled information leads towards the peaks of Baranthar. This, of course, only remains one of the possible adventure hooks to introduce you to this module.

    Near the peaks, the outpost of the alchemist Skarvass (including explosions!) makes for the final stretch of civilization as well as an option for the PCs to stock up with special alchemical draughts that help with the dangers of high altitude - but not cold! Following the trail through the wilderness for a week, the PCs arrive at Vorn's Gorge, where they have a chance to find a so-called mimetic crossbow, which allows the target of its shots to be the target of essentially a skill-theft - up to 5 ranks of a skill can be stolen and temporarily transferred to the crossbow's wielder, but only for up to 5 rounds and only for one use of the skill. Furthermore, the skill, for its short duration, if it's a class-skill for the wielder but no ranks, gets the +3 bonus. I'm not comfortable with this item. First, while the will-save to resist is harmless at DC 13, the flat-out -5 penalty to the respective skill-checks feels not particularly organic - if a foe only has 4 ranks, I think the penalty should only be -4 penalty. And while the maximum amount of skill-points transferred caps at 5, the ranks can, as written, break the level-cap of the user. While the item states: "The beneficiary of this enchantment may not have more ranks in a skill than normal via this enchantment (the target still suffers the penalty in skill ranks regardless of the bonus received by the user).", this is still not a proper cap. Additionally, while only one skill may be thus scavenged at a given time, there is no limit on how many adversaries can be affected at a given time - stealing two times acrobatics from 2 rogues for 10 ranks would be possible in theory, though I think the intent was for no more than one skill being at any time transferrable via the crossbow. I like the idea of the item, but its execution is a tad bit wonky and could use some clearer wording.

    Back to the module: Forging New Paths for PCs going off the beaten track is covered thankfully and sooner or later, the PCs will have to contend with a fiendish dire wolverine stalking the frigid peaks. Oh, and an artificially-caused avalanche will have the PCs run for their lives, thankfully with an excessive table of how far characters can run (and possibly escape) the avalanche. Nice hazard! No time to breathe, though - the ice-trolls of the thickskin tribe make ready to attack the PCs and after (hopefully!) some fruitful negotiation, the PCs will find out that the brutes have suffered from the cursed peaks as well. But in order to end the curse that blurs the mountaintops, the PCs will have to ascend the Slopes of Madness. The way up these could be handled via various skill-checks (including flight) - or be supplemented with a cool idea: Have your players actually stack dice - fast! Success nets massive bonuses to the checks. Awesome idea and two thumbs up!

    In Vornskall's Pass, jets of freezing water, gargoyles and finally, Yalroth, the half-fiendish yeti offspring of Grualroth preside over tortured ice trolls being strapped to ice-made torture devices that litter the peak's snow blood (depicted in one superb piece of full-color artwork). Defeating the dread spawn of evil ends the snowstorms and the descent proves to be rather anticlimactic. The pdf comes with one awesome map of the overall lands as well as 4 grid-studded maps of all encounter areas - all in full color.

    Conclusion:

    Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to an easy-to-read 2-column standard, broken up by one-column entries - a clearer line that sticks to the former would have probably made reading the module slightly easier, but I won't complain about that. The pdf comes with a printer-friendly version and excellent maps as well as cool full color art, especially for the low price. On the downside, the module has no bookmarks, which is a detrimental factor in my book.

    Author Mike Myler offers us a module that is an actually really good expedition/wilderness module, though one that could have used some random encounter charts for the uneventful interludes between the encounters. Still, the use of environmental hazards and cool variety of challenges make this a module that is very much...awesome. Seriously, there aren't many good wilderness modules out there and Mike Myler's evocative prose does quite a bit to add to the module's appeal. Yes, the crossbow isn't perfect, yes, some weather charts for dynamic weather and random encounters would have improved this further and yes, I don't get why this has no bookmarks. The finale is also a bit anticlimactic and could have used more terrain - what about the prisoners flailing about, grabbing PCs? Ice slippery with blood? The making of a superb final encounter are tehre for the DM, but the module weirdly doesn't develop them to their logical conclusion, opting for a more conservative approach.

    But: It still is a great module for a price that is indeed a steal. While it has rough edges, I can't bring myself to rating this down, also thanks due to the cool way to RL stack dice to improve the checks - genius and cool. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    The Mysterious Peaks of Baranthar
    Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
    by Brian W. M. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 11/11/2013 14:54:16

    I bought this adventure because of the evocative cover, it just screams mythos to me, and I hoped that this would not be an empty promise.

    I wasn't disappointed. With this adventure Mike Myler has created a very cool adventure that can be inserted into almost any campaign, I know I will use it after my group has finished wih their current endeavor.

    I had only read five pages of the PDF before my imagination went into overdrive with how I wanted to play that encounter and this encounter and so on. A special little thing Mike Myler does is something I wish more PDFs would do, he puts in two fullpage artworks showing what the cahracters see, that is a key selling point for me, as these pieces of artwork helps set the mood for both players and GM. I love it.

    I wont go into specifics with the adventure itself, apart from saying that there is a twist that will make you go: They have done what?!? Awesome thing that twist. The end baddie is also very good and he(or it) should bag a character or two.

    Finally I will say that the effect it has on your imagination is enough to buy this awesome PDF, and you get a good adventure on top with cool inspirational NPCs.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    The Mysterious Peaks of Baranthar
    Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
    by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 10/01/2013 06:45:06

    It all begins with a traveller's journal...

    If you have played Mike Myler's previous adventure The Clockwork Wonders of Brandlehill, you ought to have discovered this fat tome, but if not, just place it in any suitable treasure trove or chest that the characters come across. It takes some reading, but the party - or at least one of them - will be well rewarded if they persevere. Apparently the traveller, one Phot, dedicated his life to chasing a fiend, and has made notes of his adventures including the location of said fiend's treasures... aha, adventurer ears prick up at that, no doubt!

    Following the hints and clues lead the party high into the mountains (which rather concerningly boast a region called the Slopes of Madness...). Initial stages pit the adventurers against the elements - including unusually severe snow storms - and the normal risks of mountaineering as well as the local wildlife. There's a novel approach to making loads of Climb checks to scramble up the mountains, steep and snow-encrusted as they are which should at least cause some amusement around the table (it won't really work if you are playing online, though), and plenty of other things to occupy the party as well.

    Finally, when the highest peak of the mountain range is reached, so is the final challenge. Somehow even dealing with that will not improve the weather - the unnatural snow storms may cease, but normal high mountain weather is often bad, and of course there's altitude sickness to contend with.

    The adventure is bestrewn with some stunning images of the scene, suitable for showing to the players to help in setting the scene - and it's a scene well worth setting. It's rare to find adventures that involve such serious levels of mountaineering, and will prove a memorable slog through blizzards, snow and high winds for the party - the sort of adventure that is probably more fun to look back on from the comfort of a fire-lit tavern room than it is to actually experience. Ample opportunity here to create some real atmosphere as you describe the adverse elements that the party will be battling through.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Displaying 1 to 3 (of 3 reviews) Result Pages:  1 
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